Reviving MtGox?

Mark Karpeles floated some ideas about resolving the MtGox bankruptcy issue in this blog post on Friday. He thinks that reviving the exchange may be a solution and estimates that $245 million would be enough to do so.

This would involve him selling his shares of MtGox to some investor. Or in the alternative, raise that capital over an ICO (initial coin offering).

Buying the MtGox shares for  only $245 million would be a bargain in some scenarios. That are those where the bankruptcy procedure is handled under an interpretation of Article 103 that lets the bankrupt (MtGox) walk away with a big share of the capital gains in over 202,000 bitcoins since 2014. Such a scenario seems quite possible right now.

However, before you rush to get in line for such an interesting opportunity, there may be another issue.

Assume for a moment that the bankruptcy procedure ends with all the capital gains going to MtGox, and leaving MtGox holding 100,000 bitcoins. That would be around $778 million at the time of this writing.

However, arguably MtGox would still owe its depositors those bitcoins. If someone held 300 bitcoins in 2014 and receives only 30 (or equivalent in yen) back in the distribution, they may be inclined to ask for a share of that 100,000.

They may have a case.

In that case, MtGox would become insolvent again immediately, which in turn would make the $245 million price for the stock seem not ever so good a bargain.

It also would make the interpretation of Art. 103 that lets the bankrupt walk away with 100,000 bitcoins look stupid, since the next bankruptcy procedure would need to be opened the next day. That in turn is another reason for arguing that the bitcoin claims should be handled as claims for payment of money.

Another issue with reviving MtGox is that it would need to register under the new law regulating exchanges. Since that law was a reaction to the MtGox insolvency, the regulator may not be inclined to cooperate.

There may also be some issues with regaining market share. While the MtGox brand is widely known (at least to people longer in the bitcoin space), it is not one that inspires much confidence.

So anyone with $245 million in spare change lying around needs to analyze very closely what happens to those 202,000 bitcoins. This may be a very interesting opportunity. But it will be very high risk.

That said, I get the impression that Karpeles is not interested in walking away with those capital gains himself and rather wants to contribute to a quick and just solution. Since some possible ways to find such a solution may involve his cooperation, this may become an important point later on.